Destinations Covered : Kaladhungi, Nainital, Ghatghar, Corbett Waterfall, Corbett Park, Champawat
Kumaon bustles with the stories of Jim Corbett who chose to settle here and work. His bungalow at Kaladhungi was a simple single-storied one which was sold post-independence to his friend Chiranjee Lal. Subsequently, this became a museum, opened to public in 1967-68. For many Corbett enthusiasts, this Museum is like a shrine and a walk through Choti Haldwani, a village established by him that lies right behind the museum, a journey through Corbett lore.
You can come across a chaupal, a public space to sit around, some old village homes, a canal, and if you are fortunate enough, a wizened villager will proudly display a gun given away by Corbett to his dad.
Nearby areas like Ghatghar and Corbett waterfall were places where Corbett stayed and spent time with the local villagers. The locals still have his possessions. Corbett walked from here to Nainital. Though quite well-off and decorated for his exploits and a member of the local Municipal Board for fifteen years to boot, he was not given the membership of the prestigious Boat House or Yacht Club, since he was only a domiciled Englishman!
One can acquaint oneself with Corbett as one arrives at the St. John’s in the Wilderness Church, located opposite the Uttarakhand High Court at Deopatta. The Church, opened in 1848, also became the final resting place for Corbett’s parents – William Christopher and Mary Jane. His mother Mary was so well respected in Nainital that the church graveyard was especially reopened to bury her next to her husband in 1924.
Corbett lived in several homes in Nainital, one of them being the Mullecole Cottage near Raj Bhawan, about 3 kms from the YWCA. It was owned by the Corbetts but was usually given on rent. It is a typical English countryside house with two floors and several huge rooms.
The black and red stone building has an open verandah on one side. What catches one’s attention are the huge bay windows with segmental arches surrounding the building. The house still retains its old furniture including carved dining tables, a Belgium glass mirror and ceramic tiles. The fondest memories of the Corbetts are preserved in the Gurney House, situated at a distance of 2.5 kms from Raj Bhawan.
A steep climb with little signs in Ayarpatta pointing to it, the bungalow where Corbett once lived is a treasure trove. A deep verandah where Corbett’s rocking chair still swings in the wind leads one inside the house that has drawing and dining rooms on either side. It has three bedrooms that still have Corbett’s cast iron bed, his safe and other belongings. Corbett also shot a maneater at Champawat where the Champawat maneater, a ferocious tiger, had killed several people.